Jewish Woman Instrumental in Disability Rights Advocacy

July 26, 2016 celebrates the 26th anniversary of the American’s with Disabilities Act.

To celebrate this momentous day, 26 on 26, Connections would like to take a moment to thank Judith Heumann. Laws such as the ADA exist in part thanks to her leadership and dedication to disability rights advocacy.

Raised in New York City by Jewish immigrant parents, Judy Heumann and her family were no strangers to discrimination. After contracting polio as a child, Heumann used a wheelchair for the rest of her life. As a result, she faced extreme prejudice. Barred from school, movie theaters, bathrooms, and more while in high school and college, Heumann realized the extent of the discrimination against people with disabilities.

Judith Heumann

Judith Heumann

Heumann became an activist for change regarding the rights of people with disabilities in America. She has dedicated her life to advocating for legislation that promotes the rights of people with disabilities. Heumann worked with Ed Roberts to co-found the Center for Independent Living at the University of California, Berkeley. She also co-founded the World Institute on Disability, and assisted with the passing of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

She states that she is encouraged by progress made. Heumann is currently the Special Advisor for International Disability Rights to the U.S. State Department. According to a friend, “Judy has changed the way things work. And now, by mentoring and empowering young people, she’s paving the way for a new generation to be involved politically.”

In 2010 Judith Heumann was honored with the Medtronic Courage Award, presented annually by Courage Center, recognizing an individual’s outstanding contributions to the health, welfare and rehabilitation of people with disabilities.

Young people with disabilities are often called the “ADA Generation” because they were born or grew up after the ADA became a law. So let’s hear it for Judith Heumann and the ADA Generation. To 26 years and many more.  “Ad Me’ah Ve-essrim Shana”

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